Two red kokanee salmon swim in creek

We are thrilled to share with our Bellevue School District community a new third grade social studies unit that engages students in a real, local issue, provides opportunities for civic engagement, and at its heart, develops cultural competence — exemplifying our BSD Goal 3, Creators of our Future World.

Beginning in October 2021, our third grade students will learn about the Snoqualmie Tribe’s unbroken relationship and stewardship of the kokanee salmon and their habitat around Lake Sammamish. In this inquiry-based and integrated social studies, literacy and science unit, students will examine the causes contributing to the decline of the native kokanee and prepare to take civic action by studying the stewardship and restoration actions led by the Snoqualmie Tribe since time immemorial and their collaborators, the Kokanee Work Group.

Partnering to enrich student learning

This rich curriculum experience is possible for Bellevue students because of the ongoing relationship and collaboration between McKenna Dorman, Snoqualmie Tribe Assistant Director of Governmental Affairs and Special Projects, Laurie Devereaux, City of Bellevue Stream Team Program Administrator, and Bellevue School District Social Studies Curriculum Developers, Amber Anderson and Patty Shelton. The unit centers on the cultural significance of kokanee salmon to the Snoqualmie Tribe and the tribe’s leadership to bring government and non-government entities alongside to seek solutions to the dwindling population and unhealthy habitat. Each lesson includes video clips from the documentary, “Spawning Grounds: Saving the Little Redfish” which captures the unique partnership between Tribal leaders, local and state agencies, private landowners and conservation groups to restore the species and habitat.

When asked what makes this curriculum important, Laurie Deveraux replied,

“It’s a real-world situation — a current event in these kids’ backyard. Kids don’t have to go to the Galapagos to learn about environmental issues and current events; they are actually getting to learn about a significant local topic in their own backyard.”

Developing cultural competence through inquiry-based learning

The unit concludes with students responding to the question: How can I contribute to the solution? They will plan an impact project targeting specific key actions to turn around the decline while understanding that there are multiple perspectives in this time-sensitive issue. With this social studies unit, students become more prepared for the challenges of college, career and civic life to promote the common good, engage in civic action and develop cultural competence.

Photos courtesy of the Bellevue Stream Team.

The Bellevue School District acknowledges that we learn, work, live and gather on the Indigenous Land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Duwamish and Snoqualmie Tribes. We thank these caretakers of this land, who have lived and continue to live here, since time immemorial.